Because now I am one. The end.
Oh, that’s not how this works? Okay, fine.
When Sadie was tiny, my sister would listen to me talking about sleep-training or teething or whether or not it was normal for baby poop to smell like a mall pretzel (nursing mothers—walk by a Wetzel’s. It’s uncanny.) and she’d refer me to one of her favorite mommy bloggers. I would always smile and thank her and write down the website…and then promptly throw the post-it note away as soon as I was out of her eye-line. I’d flip through the occasional parenting book (written by a DOCTOR. Who by cultural default and years of education has authority to impress his or her opinions onto me) but reading online journals by parents who felt comfortable (or compelled—ick) to share the daily ins-and-outs of their families’ lives struck me as strange and off-putting. Did I ever read one? Nope. Did I sit on my judgmental high horse and ride that bastard into the sunset instead? Yes ma’am, I sure did.
Why would somebody do something like that? I had so many questions. And so many reasons to roll my eyes.
- Who Gives a Shit? Why, fellow parent, do you believe that anyone, especially an exhausted child-wrangler, would sit down and spend time consuming your accounts of picky eating and difficult labor and delivery? hmm…I feel crappy pretty frequently about how exciting and satisfying delivering Sadie was and how I still think back on my 47 hours of labor with Caleb as being pretty much the worst two days of my existence. I’m sure I’m the only mother on earth who had this experience and I think I’ll just swallow my lingering guilt along with the dried up string-cheese bits I’m eating off 2-hour old toddler lunch plates. Wait, what? It might soothe my angst and help me feel connected to other women if I perused some blogs and read other not-so-magical birth stories? Nah. I’ll just chill here alone with my guilt-cheese, thanks.
- Don’t You Have Any Real Friends? Our world is falling apart and the art of face-to-face conversation is surely lost. Technology is rendering us inept at physical human connection and we’re facing a real crisis if you can’t just go to the park with your girlfriend and tell her all this crap you spew into the void. hmm…I have a very difficult time completely unmasking and showing up with total authenticity, except for with my very closest friends. I’m quirky and damaged and idiosyncratic and think horrible things about perfectly lovely people and I’m terrified that I’ll say the wrong thing and be judged. Excuse me, what? The curtain of anonymity that screens provide allows folks to break down walls and be real in ways they might not if they were face-to-face with someone? Reading the words of these brave people might allow me to know total strangers in a way that might give me the courage to be truly witnessed by more than just my Core 4? Meh. I’m just going to scream “i hate the little assholes!” into my sister’s answering machine and then ugly cry in the shower knowing that I’m the worst mother in the world.
- Why Would You Want a Bunch of Strangers Knowing All Your “Stuff?” Don’t you people understand that once it’s out there, it’s out there FOREVER? No take-backsies. Your children will someday be teenagers and their friends will be able to read about the time they drank (soiled) toilet water. What exhibitionism leads people to think that the blogosphere isn’t completely saturated by accounts of Target trips gone awry and needs just one more? About YOUR kid? hmm…I do see some of those articles that go viral floating around Facebook and do tend to read them. It always strikes me in those moments that these people are serving other parents with their willingness to express their triumphs and frustrations in such a public way. Their honesty makes me feel less alone and more willing to seek intimacy and encourages me to be a better parent. OKAY FINE! STOP YELLING AT ME. I see the point.
- I Secretly Kind of Want to Do This Too, and I’m Afraid. I’m afraid you’re all better than me. I’m afraid that anything I have to say will have been said already. I’m afraid I’ll fail or that no one will read what I’m writing. You know what? Just grab Liz Gilbert’s Fear List from Big Magic and paste it here. It’s as if she crawled inside my brain and went digging in the quicksand. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. It’s something that I do well and it’s something that charges me up. It’s also a tremendous source of anxiety and pressure for me. Pressure from whom? My thesis advisor in college? I mean…WTF? I don’t even write anymore. Most of my writer friends from undergrad went on to pursue MFAs and take workshops after college. I spent the decade after college getting loaded and crying and then getting sober. And crying. What gives me the right to think I can do this? I’m afraid, and so I don’t engage. I judge you for blogs I don’t even read and I make my world snotty and small and sad.
I’m still afraid. I’m ready to take the risk, though, and as I prepare to do that, I’m reading what other parents out there are writing. And y’all, there’s so much awesome stuff out there! There’s something for everyone and there’s room for everyone and there’s real grit and truth and depth just floating on the airwaves ready to be yummed-up. I hope that I have something to offer. I hope that for the people I don’t freak out and make uncomfortable, I can extend a hand and be the light that I’m finding a lot of complete strangers are able to be for me. But even if I do this right— eviscerate, bleed, show-up the way I long to show up—and am met with silence and disinterest, this whole process has made me braver, gentler, more curious. And maybe for the moment, slightly less of an asshole. Imma stop judging y’all, because y’all are making me better. Something I’m not great at achieving in the vacuum of my little life. So thanks for that, strangers getting emotionally undressed on the interwebs. You are an inspiration. Cheers.